Charity volleyball tourney tries for silence on sand
Players assemble in Hermosa Beach for last year’s Volley4Sound charity tournament. This year’s event will take place Oct. 19. Photo courtesy Volley4Sound
by Ryan McDonald
Last year, Kelsey Brandin bought earplugs for the first time in her life. Brandin, who is hearing impaired, normally had little need for them. She wanted to make sure that the earplugs blocked out enough sound to effectively mimic hearing impairment, so she got some friends to help her test them out.
It was all in the name of a good cause. Brandin is the organizer of Volley4Sound, a charity volleyball tournament taking place north of the Hermosa Beach Pier on Oct. 19. The tournament, which raises money for foundations battling hearing loss, puts a unique spin on beach volleyball: all players have to wear earplugs during the games.
Brandin’s friends told her that the first set of earplugs she bought didn’t quite do the trick. The second set worked almost too well.
“A couple of my friends gave me feedback after the tournament, and said they felt frustrated. I said, Yes, that’s my life!” Brandin said with a laugh. “It is frustrating when you can’t hear everything. It’s hard not to be upset at it.”
Brandin was raised in the South Bay. Once she started attending school in Manhattan Beach, she began working with Margie Hindenlang, a hearing specialist whom Brandin said helped her greatly. The two became close enough that Hindenlang delayed her retirement until Brandin graduated from Mira Costa in 2012.
Brandin stayed in touch after graduating. When she learned that Hindenlang had been diagnosed with lung cancer, she approached and asked her how she could help. Hindenlang said what she most wanted was for Brandin to raise money for foundations fighting hearing loss.
Volley4Sound was born last year. Brandin, who came up with the idea for the tournament out of her enjoyment of playing beach volleyball with her friends on weekends, worked to drum up local interest and corporate sponsors. She also got professional volleyball players to play, including AVP player Taylor Crabb. The tournament raised more than $5,000.
Hindenlang died shortly after last year’s inaugural run, but Brandin plans to keep the tournament going. This money raised will support the Hearing Loss Association of America.
Brandin said the event helps others see the everyday difficulty that hearing impairment entails. But both playing and the process of organizing has also been a reminder that, as she says, “Being unique is better than being perfect.”
“It’s very difficult for someone to accommodate me and remember that I have a disability,” Brandin said. “So I try to take advantage of the conversations that I can be a part of. If I miss out, then I just miss that opportunity. Hopefully, it will come up again. But I’ve learned to be very patient over the years.”
Volley4Sound takes place on the sand north of the Hermosa Pier on Oct. 19. Games start at 9 a.m. To register, go to volley4sound.wordpress.com.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the amount of money last year’s tournament raised.